March 29, 2003

Mayor Richard M. Daley and CTA officials today broke ground on a new construction project that will renovate the 108-year-old 'L' connector track just west of Paulina that links the Green Line on Lake Street with the Cermak (Douglas) branch of the Blue Line at Congress Parkway.

"This project will provide more transit alternatives connecting more neighborhoods throughout the city," said Daley. ?By upgrading existing structures like this, we are wisely using resources that provide the most potential for cost effective enhancements."

Ultimately, the Paulina Connector project will rehabilitate the elevated structure and install a second track, third (power) rail and a cab signal system. The ?-mile-long structure currently has a single track that is used to shuttle cars requiring major maintenance between the Blue Line and the CTA's Rail Heavy Maintenance Shop in Skokie. Construction work will take place south of Washington and involve replacing the metal structure with concrete foundations and columns like rest of the Blue Line. Track work will take place along the entire line to Lake Street.

Structure, track and substation work is expected to begin Spring 2003 and last until Spring 2004. The CTA expects signal and communications work to be completed by January 2005, the same time as the Cermak (Douglas) Blue Line Reconstruction Project.

Contracts for work on the Cermak (Douglas) Blue Line Reconstruction Project have been modified to include the $33.8 million cost of renovating the 'L' connector. Funding for this project is being provided by the Federal Transit Administration and the Illinois Department of Transportation. The FTA is providing $23.6 million and through Illinois FIRST, IDOT is providing $5.9 million, with CTA covering program management and contingency costs.

?The wheels of progress continue to turn at the CTA," said CTA Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett, ?and improving the Paulina Connector is an extension of the work that is already underway on this line. Upon completion, the project will provide additional transit options for our customers and allow the CTA an opportunity to increase ridership."

?As a structure that is over a century old, the Paulina Connector is in need of renovation to provide all of the benefits possible for our operations and service," said CTA president Frank Kruesi. "Rehabilitating this essential stretch of track will restore a link for the Blue Line to the rest of the CTA rail network."

The connector track was built by the Metropolitan West Side Elevated Railroad, a predecessor of the CTA, in 1895. It was part of the Logan Square 'L' that branched north from the main line at Congress Street while Garfield Park (Forest Park) trains continued west and Douglas Park (Cermak) trains turned south.

After the Dearborn subway was opened in 1951, service on what is now the connector track was discontinued until 1954, when the Garfield Park 'L' was torn down in preparation for construction of the Congress (Eisenhower) Expressway.

From 1954 until service began in the median of the expressway in 1958, Douglas Park trains used the connector to reach the Lake Street 'L' for trips to the Loop.

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